December 25, 2016 –

What a joyful day we celebrate today!  Christmas – the annual celebration of Jesus’ birth.  Just as Pastor Steve read to us earlier, it is a celebration of the fulfillment of God’s promise to rescue His people and bring salvation to all mankind.  That salvation is the reconciliation of sinful mankind to a mercy giving, grace extending, loving God.  It is the time of year that we experience the best of our fellow man; the time when we are reminded to be of service to others and draw near to our God.

As the song says, “It’s the most wonderful time of the year, with the kids jingle belling and everyone telling you be of good cheer, it’s the most wonderful time of the year.”

There is something extra special about the Christmas season that sets itself apart from every other holiday.  It is more than a few extra days off from work, more than the many celebrations with family and friends.  It is really more than the frenzy of driving from store to store as we search for the perfect present for our spouse or children.  Christmas invites us to give – this season compels us to share of ourselves and not just stuff.

I believe that is because what we are really celebrating – what mankind fully realizes (even if they don’t want to acknowledge it) – is that we are celebrating the first and best Christmas gift ever given.  It is the gift of God giving His Son to and for us.

John 3:16 – “For God loved the world so much that he gave his one and only Son, so that everyone who believes in him will not perish but have eternal life.”

Christmas reminds us what is most important.  God’s Heavenly Light broke forth into our dark and broken world.  It was with modest fanfare from humble shepherds and born to young parents, Jesus, entered the world as our Savior.

The prophet Isaiah proclaimed his birth by declaring in Isaiah 7:14, “All right then, the Lord himself will give you the sign. Look! The virgin will conceive a child! She will give birth to a son and will call him Immanuel (which means God is with us).”

That is the gift.  This is the reason for the season’s celebrations.  It is that a loving God desired to be near you.  He wanted to walk and live with you just as He did with Adam.  Man could not reconcile himself to God once sin entered into our nature so God – taking the form of man – came to us so that through faith we could tap into His grace and once again have relationship with Him.

Let’s get into today’s message and discover the blessing of having our God “with us”.